Dharmajam's Blog


The Issue of Support, aka Why Do Some Women Go Nuts?
June 29, 2010, 7:08 am
Filed under: Mothering / Parenting

There’s an amazing book called “After the Baby’s Birth” by Robin Lim.  http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781587611100

Nitya loaned it to me during my second pregnancy, not so long ago. It centers around how to care for and support a woman after the birth. What could the world need more than for women to receive a crash course in how the first year of new motherhood should go? It should be required reading in every obstetrics practice, and recommended in every childbirth class.  I have a good mind to go around distributing it liberally in waiting rooms across the country.  Save the Mammas Tour… who’s with me?

Despite the media attention to postpartum depression in recent years, the issue of hormonal changes and the crazies that can go along with it still remains a hush hush topic.  I mean, the most women get in the obstetrician’s prenatal visit is a stern “this could happen to you, and if it does, tell me.”  Most of the time that talk doesn’t even happen.  The mother-to-be simply reads a poster up on the wall, or a pamphlet about the affliction. 

I know it is against medical procedure, but how about some good ole’ preventative measures?  But, they are not sure why some women have PPD and others don’t.  I feel confident in stating that the primary cause of debilitating PPD is a lack of maternal support in the neonatal period and year following.  I do not mean to say that pre-existing conditions, or a latent condition brought out by the hormonal changes of the birth are not to blame.  I am saying that these factors are meant to be mitigated by loving, understanding support of the new mother.

The brilliant part of the book is that it is a guide for the woman, not her husband or partner.  (Although the issue would be better served if both read it.)  The book teaches a woman, gives permission to a woman, to follow her gut, to state what she needs to herself first, and then to others. Once a woman gives permission to herself to receive support, she is able to communicate it with conviction.  She knows that if she receives support, she will be able to support her child.

I’m talking about understanding and compassion.  It seems that, more and more, women are expected to *bounce back* quickly from labor. People are impressed and happy to see a woman out and about with her days-old infant. What happened to the lying in period?  That sensitive, holy time of focusing only on acclimation and getting to know each other; that time for adequate recovery?  What happened to other women making soup for a week to nurture the new mother?  Why is there a perception that a new mother should be able to keep up?  With the house keeping, or visiting, or anything?  There should be zero pressure.

The prevalence of mothers not bonding sufficiently with their babies would be greatly reduced if mothers could get the support and love they need in the neonatal period and in the year following.

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Request vs. Demand
June 26, 2010, 3:56 am
Filed under: Feminism, Uncategorized

I am torn over my choice of words.  In the last sentence of the note about gender roles, my first choice was “The only thing left to do is to demand it.”  Demand respect vs. request respect.  Something bothered me about demanding respect for a traditional feminine role.  It seemed incongrous with my thesis, that the next step for feminism should be equal value for the mom / wife jobs.  Was this just June Cleaver having the last say?  ‘Be nice, Dharmaja. Just request it.” 

And yet, there is something to that, isn’t there?  If feminine roles are to be valued as much as masculine roles, how could I deviate from that nurturing position for a foray into masculine demands?  Wouldn’t it be hypocritical? 

I think that in the end, a passive request is more effective than a confrontational demand.  Passive resistance seems not to be so very passive after all;  it never loses sight of the goal, yet also never declares war… after all, there are children to raise.

In the best of moments, Zen.  In the worst? Crazy-making.

-Dharm



Gender Roles… again with this? Of course.
June 26, 2010, 3:38 am
Filed under: Feminism

My fear in writing this down is that I will be looked upon as a hopeless idealist, or worse, an illusioned madwoman. Most likely I am only exposing a deep flaw in myself, or my “personal” life. However, there is some part of me that cries out, “this is something that needs exposure in a semi-public, cyber discussion.” So, I obey. It will soon be discovered whether or not it resonates with any of my friends.

In the back of my mind, there lives a shiny happy image of June Cleaver. She’s there, just smiling, happily condescending to her children, lovingly caring for her husband, content, RESTED.

I’m not quite sure, how did she become so firmly implanted there? Because, if she were at the forefront, if I had been raised to believe she was the ideal, if my basic psycho structure was more domestic, less feminist, I wouldn’t be having so much trouble… with the endless laundry, the endless dusting, the endless vacuuming, the endless meals, the endless monotony, the endless endless reminder that everything is always breaking down and turning to dust.

How did June Cleaver wind up at the base of my skull, tut tutting at my disorderly conduct and guilt-tripping my feminist nature? Oh god, a June Cleaver complex. Isn’t interesting that the last name is ‘cleave’? Sunny June the Cleaver and her husband ‘Ward,” as in psychiatric ward?

And the whole image is born of the fifties, that strange era of coaxing all the women back into a life of domestic bliss, back from the more valiant and exciting work of Rosie the Riveter. Of course feminism was needed, to stop that crazy peddling. (Not to mention its earlier work of getting us legal control over our children and money.)

But I have to sympathize with The Man here on the fundamental issue: Someone IS needed in the home, to do the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry… the upkeep of life. It becomes a problem only because it can be so damn isolating, the way the individual family unit is set up. Without other people around, other adults, it all becomes a bore, a chore, rather than pleasant activities uniting a community. Which of course has meaning.

And here I come to my problem with feminism in its current state. Feminism demands respect for women, but not for the role women traditionally play, and which many many women still fulfill today, because as I’ve already said, someone needs to do it and women are the best at seeing what needs to be done and doing it. This leaves so many women outside the shelter of feminism’s demand for respect.

Feminism has tied a woman’s worth to doing jobs outside the home. Perhaps this was an important step in the journey of feminism. The next appropriate step is to acknowledge that having a mother stay at home to do all the needed support and work required to nurture a healthy family is worthy of just as much respect as jobs outside the home. The only thing left to do is to request it.

There. Happy June?

P.S.
My apologies if this is reductionist, or too simplistic, it is, after all just a “note” and not a dissertation.



Hello world!
June 26, 2010, 3:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, this seems momentous.  Here’s my first official blog entry.  I’ve chosen a theme that seems simple and non-imposing.  I’m pasting in my facebook note that garnered the support for this blog.  Then I’ll try commenting on it with yet another post.  Play by plays… baby steps… what about bob? anyone?  This is going to come off hopeless, and yet, I feel very optimistic!